DC News & Views

So here’s the thing. Last week, nothing happened in the world of comics. Seriously.

Nothing.

So, basically, this column has two links to The Pulse…and that’s it. The Pulse, apparently, is the only site on the web (besides Comics Nexus. WHAT? WHAT?!) that wasn’t a slacker. So give it up for the Pulse.

Anyway, besides that, I have a Nostalgia Time Review of DC One Million, a brief description of Ben Morse’s big bash (as requested by the message board community), and some current reviews.

What you won’t see is the Kyle eulogy. I thought about, I wrote, and then I said, out loud, why bother? Thankfully, as I was alone, no one responded. In all seriousness, it just didn’t seem right to me. Too presumptuous (who knows what might happen to him) and too…beating a dead horse I guess. It would have been well written (hopefully, you’d have agreed) but something being well written does not necessarily justify publishing it.
Instead, I will just quickly thank DC management at the time, and all those that made their mark on Kyle, especially Ron Marz, Judd Winick, Paul Pelletier, Dale Eaglesham, Darryl Banks, and Grant Morrison. Kyle is/was a hell of a character and I appreciate the risk you guys took about 10 years ago in creating him. I look forward to where GL goes from here. Good luck to Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Carlos Pacheco, and everyone else in charge of bringing back Hal Jordan. I look forward to the ride.

I suspect that’s it. Let’s move on to the (snicker) news.


Powerade, DC Comics Crown “King James”

Exclusive LeBron James Comic by DC Comics Created for Launch of POWERADE FLAVA23.

At 19 years old, LeBron James has already achieved many “firsts” – first “prep to pro” player to score 25 points in his pro debut, youngest player to score 40 points in a game, youngest player to score 1,000 career points, and now the first superstar athlete to create his own sports drink: POWERADE FLAVA23.

Dunk all over The Pulse.

Remember that TV show ProStars? It featured Wayne Gretzsky (representing hockey), Michael Jordan (representing basketball), and Bo Jackson (representing baseball and football because, well, Bo knows)? If this book is one quarter as excellent as that television show, I think Mr. James has made himself a fan for life.

But seriously, there’s some great talent behind this book…and I just don’t have anything else to say.


Who Controls Fate?

Towards the end of Warren Ellis’s The Authority run, the leader of the team asserts that the twentieth century comes to an end on 31st December 1999. When another member of the team argues that the century doesn’t actually end until the last day of 2000, Jenny Sparks, for it is she, blames “consensus reality”. Another way of saying that is something from my ‘day job’: a little thing called ‘substance over form’. In other words: what’s actually going on as opposed to the strict legal ‘form’.

I’ll come back to that in a moment, after I earn your gratitude by confirming that we’re not about to talk about who created various characters. No, Peter David covered that some years ago in his glorious WACKO – Writer As Creative/King/Overlord – theory, in which he convincingly (and in my opinion, conclusively) put forward the hypothesis that in almost all circumstances, the writer is the creator of the character, not the artist.
There has also been some discussion recently about the illusion of change and how comic book characters essentially remain locked into their characters, never allowed to evolve as ‘people’.

Well, in a nice bit of synchronicity, all three things (the WACKO theory, substance over form and the evolution of characters) have been bothering me the past week. I wasn’t planning to address this issue for another couple of weeks, but it seemed appropriate, with the announcement at Wizard World of more details of the return of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, to cover it now:

The question I pose is just who controls the destiny of characters published by comics companies?

To check out reason #2 (GL overload) why there was no Kyle eulogy, head on over to The Pulse

Just another one of those interesting things to think about columns that I like to tuck in once in a while. Worth a read if for no other reason than to get you thinking.

Particularly interesting is his musing on bringing a murderer back to the role of GL, (and linking it to the voting for death of Jason Todd). I don’t necessarily agree as I think most rabid Hal fans just simply don’t consider him a murderer because they consider Emerald Twilight an error and thus, in a way, something that never occurred. However, I think it is interesting that he pointed it out, since I am not sure anyone else has.


NOSTAGLIA TIME (Sponsored by Bowling for Soup’s New Single “1985”)

DC One Million #1-4, JLA One Million

I originally had intended this flashback to focus on the whole of Grant Morrison’s run. However, in writing up the DC One Million section of it, I found that, having been surprised by my walk down memory lane, I had a lot more to say about it than I thought. So much more that a full write up on JLA #1-41, including the DC One Million stuff would be really, really long. Like excessively so. And coming from a guy who loves to be as wordy as I do, you know that that is too damn long.

So, instead, here is a DC One Million flashback. The JLA one is completed and will run next week. I hope that someday, you can forgive me.

What I Liked

I liked DC One Million. I mean, I really truly enjoyed it. The first time around, I cannot describe to you my disappointment in this DC mega crossover event. However, after reading the mini and the JLA issue, I really did enjoy it.

Don’t get me wrong, it is still not perfect. I’m not running off to marry it or anything. I am sure if I dug up all the other DC One Million crossover issues I own I might start to feel the same way again. However, as four issue (plus JLA One Million) mini, it played surprisingly well.

As always, Morrison can be counted on to deliver larger than life spectacles and ideas built off a fan boy crust. I mean, which of us hasn’t thought of “wouldn’t it be cool if the current JLA met their future counterparts?” However, which of us would ever have thought to craft a story like this off that basic principle? And thus, why Morrison gets the big bucks.

It should also be not that Val Semeiks does a very nice job translating Morrison’s script. What the heck is he or she up to these days?

One of the biggest treats of re-reading the story now was how much of what would happen in the DCU over the next year or so was set up by the mini. In its pages there were references to The Kingdom (the then on the way sequel to Kingdom Come), and thus the first hint of Hypertime, the Arsenal/Vandal Savage connection that would be deepened and explained in Arsenal’s miniseries, the gathering of most of the team that would front the Titan series (BEN’S FAVORITE!), the Ultramarines, and the coming of the Anti-Sun. The references are never obtrusive, but they are like Easter eggs on a DVD…always a pleasant surprise when one pops up.

The moment that sealed the mini for me comes on nearly the last page. Green Lantern is describing his experiences in 853rd Century and ends the story with the last thing he saw. Superman Prime, (that is our Superman, but those many years in the future), the hero who has been living in the sun, who now possesses the GL ring, who just crushed Solaris with a thought, glances his over his shoulder as he departs forever with he newly created wife, and throws Kyle a wink. It made me giddy as all get out. For me, it was an encapsulation of why Morrison wrote so well. He wrote the crazy, bombastic stuff with undeniable flair, but some of the coolest moments were one-off lines and quiet simple moments.

What I Didn’t Like

Like many of Morrison’s JLA epics, it is all a bit overstuffed. We have a rage inducing mechanical virus, the threat of our future being destroyed by Vandal and Solaris, the threat of our present being destroyed by Vandal and some Rocket Red suits, a Superman Prime welcoming ceremony in the far flung future, some sort of Olympic games thing there as well…and some other stuff too. I know several of these were explored more in depth in the other crossover titles, but…well, I didn’t buy them all and most likely couldn’t have afforded to anyway. Thus, for me, that’s a detriment.

Also, although this is retroactive critiquing, the rage virus phenomenon would show up again months later as part of the Anti-Sun’s ability. That’s a tad disappointing.

Finally, much like GL, I don’t really get how Supes grew a new Lois. Or why her DNA was in Solaris. Or why that scene plays way creepy to me.

Bottom Line

Color me pleasantly surprised. A DC “event” that I actually enjoyed. I’m glad I revisited it.


OPINIONS ON THE WORK OF PEOPLE FAR MORE TALENTED THAN I

BLOODHOUND #2

The first issue of this “tough” DC book was decent, but didn’t blow my socks off. The bad ass cop wrongly imprisoned device, the using one criminal to catch another device, the one partner returning to another disgraced partner to give him a second shot device, these are all well worn genre traditions. They worked, but I was hoping for a bit more.

And that bit more is what I get this issue. Clevenger is still a witty one liner speaking bad ass, but there is a bit more depth to him now. The on the fly analysis of his former weight problem prior to imprisonment is well done and psychologically true (believe me, that’s rarer than you might think). The tension in Clevenger’s former partner’s household is palpable. However, it is not the sort of tension that comes from having your husband or father’s murderer return for a visit. So what exactly is the deal?

Leonard Kirk is doing a bang up job on art as well. There is still some very brutal stuff, as with last issue, and he continues to excel at it. However, this script also calls for some quiet, subtle, and comedic moments along the way and Kirk hits those notes quite nicely. A news series that is definitely worth a look.

GOTHAM CENTRAL #22

As good as Gotham Central is, not all storylines can be created equal. It is just the nature of any episodic or serial form of entertainment.

Unresolved joins Half a Life as the best this book can be. A cheesy villain is given a sense of menace, a nicely twisted mystery who’s conclusion is satisfying but not obvious, the return of Bullock…well, I could go on and on. Just a fully realized storyline end to end. Pick it up.

GREEN ARROW #41

Every time I write up Green Arrow, I mention Winick’s writing, but never the art team of Hester and Parks. That’s a mistake. It is probably because I have taken them for granted because they are so consistently excellent. Well, no more! Their work on this issue is deserving of praise, as has been each issue they have done up until this point. The angular cartoon-esque style just works on this title. I can’t explain it. If you had told me before Hester and Parks began to pencil and ink this book (way back when Smith was writing) what their style was like and would have sworn up and down that they were wrong for the job. Because, as we all know by now, I’m an idiot.

Plot wise, we are still dealing with the fall out of “City Walls”. The highlight of the book for me is easily Connor confronting Ollie. Man, do I miss Connor being a lead character.

IDENTITY CRISIS #3

What can I say about this book that won’t spark a message board war? Not much, probably. An amazing fight sequence coupled with some spot on Green Arrow narration dominates most of the book. The mind wiping villains scheme is revealed in its whole. Another friend/family member of a hero meets danger.

Chances are, you’re reading this one. If you’re not and you’re a DC fan, you’re missing a lot. Agree or disagree with what this series is doing, it is huge. It is worth your 3 dollars to check it out.

JSA #64

Yeah, Sand is back!

Seriously, I am so easily pleased.

Overlooking that, this book is filled with continuity Easter eggs. For those who love their obscure DCU characters, you’ll get a kick out of how far Johns goes with this. Most of them I didn’t get (beyond knowing that they were there). It didn’t really detract from my above hinted enjoyment of the story, but it may for some.

NIGHTWING #96

Nightwing hits Gotham City, unknowingly dragging Tarantula in tow. The poor man just cannot catch a break.

NW’s internal narration is suitably depressing, given his state of mind, and suitably admiring of Batman because, well, he’s Batman (duh!). I am looking forward to seeing Dick’s transgression of hesitation come to a head, especially since Batman can already clearly tell something is up.

War Games is all over this book, but Grayson (the writer, not the character) still manages to advance the book’s subplots. Unlike Robin’s Steph as Robin storyline, I don’t feel as though this book’s plotlines have been accelerated to accommodate War Games, which is certainly a good thing.

EX MACHINA #3

This is the second book with a flashback involving one’s mother this week; this one decidedly creepier and cooler. The first was Doctor Spectrum which just happens to be reviewed on this very site by yours truly. God…I am such a publicity whore.

In any case, the mystery at the heart of this first storyline is starting to take center stage as New York continues to be pelted by day upon day of snow. Thankfully, it is not driving the politics out of the book, however, as Hundred tries to remove the painting from the museum without incurring wrath from either side of the political aisle.

The aforementioned flashback/meditation is the most dynamic moment in the book thus far and Harris more than rises to the occasion. Kremlin’s reappearance and the hints of a possible sworn enemy are also instances worth noting.

My only issue at all with this book right now is that the plow killer’s costume (or clothes, really) reminds me of Captain Cold. It doesn’t take me out of the story at all, it just makes me giggle when I think about it. I wish I could make that sound more manly, but…eh.

The best new series on the shelves, bar none.

ROBIN #129

Now, here we go! Willingham’s strongest issue since he took over. Don’t be dissuaded from picking it up by the “War Games” logo on the front.

BIRDS OF PREY #72

Now it all comes together. As you might remember, last time out, I commented that things were getting weird. Good, but weird. Well, it turns out there is a damn good reason for it. Simone chooses a perfectly sensible villain to bring things together, but I doubt if anyone has or would see it coming. His or her reveal was the first legitimate surprise I have gotten in a non-event comic in some time. Bravo again, Simone, bravo.


I think we have reached the end of our weekly journey. Sorry that this week was so rough. Just not much doing in the wide world of sequential art, I suppose. In any case, I hope this brief summary of Ben’s party salvages this mess.

If you were in New England, you must have been vaguely aware of the rain on Saturday. Mostly because it was everywhere and showed no interest in stopping. Thus the 12 of us that would make up the Ben Morse party brigade were driven inside, forced to postpone Operation: BBQ for one day.

Instead, we made our own fun by donning the gear of our ancestors (pilgrims, cowboys, saloon girls, flappers, 20’s gangsters, southern belles, pirates, early era baseball players, and sunbathers) we posed for pictures. Firearms, trout, and general absurdity abounded.

Of course, our extra long photo session made us no friends at the pizza place down the street. They began to give away our pizzas after we were nearly 2 hours late to pick them. Come on, like they’ve never been late for an appointment because they had to pose with eleven of their closest friends while brandishing a tommy gun. I mean, really now! In the end, the owner rapidly remade us our missing four pizzas (or pies for you Jersey folk) and we set off merely on our way.

Pizza was followed, as it always must be, by videos. I missed the hit film “Sins of Desire” and thus a whole host of references that will undoubtedly be incorporated into the lexicon of the group. Ah, me, always an outsider. In any case, I understand that it was a heck of a picture and details are available here . As a tease, here is a sample quote from a reviewer, “Most people tend to expect nothing from this genre, of course, and Sins of Desire delivers on that expectation quite handily.” Come on, you know it is good now!

The evening concluded with me being shoved off an air mattress on to the floor while I slept and a really wicked charlie horse. And yet I was still having a good time. Perhaps I should re-evaluate my life.

The next day Operation: BBQ was on and nothing was going to stop us. And by us, I mean Ben’s dad. We, the 12, the proud, the college folk, went to the beach. And despite a profound lack of coordination (Megan) and an inordinate fear of 6 Poison Ivy plants (Chloe) we ended up having a genuinely good time.

Upon our return we consumed burgers and hot dogs until hell would not have them while trying to puzzle out how, exactly, a dog that belonged to none of us got inside the house and hung out for the better part of an hour before any of us caught on that maybe it shouldn’t have been there. We do indeed rival Batman’s detective skills.

Photos and many uncomfortable hugs closed the evening and soon Janelle and I were back in my hot car (sweet 96 Toyota Corolla, maroon) and cruising back to fair CT.

Many thanks to Ben’s folks for pulling it all together and the 12 for being just so gosh darn great.

Here endeth the entirely un-comic related party tale.

Hello everybody. This is Ben Morse, making an unexpected and unannounced appearance in Tim’s column. This is one of the benefits of being in charge, which Daron would agree with me on were he not passed out in a pit of unfinished 144enema proposals.

Anyhow, what Tim is neglecting to mention is that he and I made a very important promise to a very important person this past weekend.

Our friend Liz Wexler is a very talented, very beautiful young lady who just graduated Connecticut College with a degree in Theater. While in Blockbuster looking for porn, Liz pulled myself and Tim aside, knowing we are very important people (when it comes to comics) and confessing to us that even though she constantly makes fun of us for reading comics, she has always secretly desired to play Wonder Woman. We vowed we would use all our connections to make it so.

Honestly, Liz is one of the most amazing actresses I know, she’s gorgeous, has the right look and would be perfect for the part. At the moment, I believe the alternative is J-Lo. Wouldn’t you rather Wonder Woman be somebody who will have me and Tim ready to annoy her to death if she screws it up in even the smallest way?

If you have absolutely anything to do with the Wonder Woman movie, know somebody who does, are Greg Rucka, whatever, I implore you, get in touch with me or Tim and we will do business. As soon as I get some digital pics uploaded from this weekend’s shindig, I or Tim will post them and you will see that Liz should…nay…MUST be the next Wonder Woman.

I’m off to Vegas for a week with my girlfriend (another beautiful and talented actress who should TOTALLY be Wonder Girl), see y’all next week when I am rich.

Before I go, let me just pimp for my good friend (and The Nexus’s unofficial War Games reviewer this week) Tim Sheridan. The film he wrote, The Romeo Division, directed by JP Sarro , is showing at the Zoinks Film Festival in Boston this coming weekend. So, if you are in the area and interested, get out your calculator (get it, division, calculator? Huh, huh?) and head on over to historic Faneuil Hall on Saturday. If you do, make sure you stay for the question and answer session. It. May. Just. Blow. Your. MIND!!!!

Have a great week and I promise next week’s offering won’t be nearly as awful.

No, honestly!

Nothing is expected of Un Gajje and yet, somehow, he rarely delivers.